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UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital

UW Hospital and Clinics Lab Test Directory

Test Name: Culture, Catheter Tip, Intravascular

Test Code(s): TIPC / GM4155

CPT Code(s): 87070; Additional CPT codes may be added for processing, identification, and susceptibility testing.

Methodology: Culture

Days Performed: Daily.

Turnaround Time: Stat: Not available stat.
Routine: Preliminary report: 24 hours. Final report: Negative cultures 3 days. Reports on specimens from which significant organism(s) have been isolated may require additional time.

Specimen Requirements

Specimen: Miscellaneous intravascular catheter tips

Collection Instructions: Indicate source of sepsis or infected indwelling arterial/venous catheter.

Collection Container: Preferred: Sterile screw cap container

Specimen Transport: Transport specimen to UWHC Microbiology (B4/231) within 2 hours of collection.

Unacceptable Criteria: Urinary catheter tips are not acceptable.

Stability: Ambient: 2 hours
Refrigerated: 2 hours
Frozen: Not acceptable


Expected Results:

No growth or insignificant growth


Fifteen or more bacterial colonies or five or more yeast colonies growing on a culture plate is regarded as a positive culture, denoting local catheter-related infection, when the same organism is recovered from blood cultures.

Test Limitations:

False negative culture results are possible if transport of the specimen to the laboratory is delayed greater than 2 hours.

Additional Information:

This procedure is appropriate only for intravascular catheter tips. Urinary catheter tips are NOT cultured under any circumstances.


Non-vascular catheters are cultured qualitatively (see Wound Cultures).


Patients with catheter related septicemia will usually have greater than 15 colonies per plate. Patients with inflammation at the catheter site, but no related septicemia, will usually have fewer than 15 colonies per plate.


Complete identification and routine susceptibility testing on organisms isolated from catheter tips is not performed.

Culture-Catheter Tip

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